I hadn’t been in an ftp 20k for a while, so last night I decided to go ahead and sign up for one. I didn’t have a decent hand to play for the first hour of the tournament, which has become the status quo around here, but thanks to playing with Guin quite a bit over the last week or so -and having him chatting at me on the girlie chat thing- I have gotten a lot better at using my tight play to steal enough blinds to keep me around. Why this newfound stealing has yet to work its way into my blogger tournament play, I may never know. Perhaps it is because the field there is so much better, and most of them are willing to call that huge preflop raise with crap cards since they figure you have crap cards too? I dunno.
I was able to double up once before the first break, on what had to be the most insane play I have ever been involved in that I have ever won. I was on the button with a 3-9o, and when it folded around to me, I decided to go for the steal again. It seems that the big blind took offense to my having my way with his stack (which I wasn’t really doing, since the big blind in this case was also the chip leader at the table). In the end, I think I just raised a little bit too much here and made it pretty obvious that it was a steal. I raised it 6x preflop, since I obviously don’t want to see a flop with those cards, but that was also 1/3 of my stack, so I really needed to get my chips back (I could have gone on without them, it just would have been tough). He took a while to think before eventually calling, no raise, just a call. Of course if he raised it I would have been setting world speed records for how fast I fold.
This is exactly the kind of hand that I really need to not be in at all if I plan to advance in MTTs. There really shouldn’t ever be a time when I am seeing a flop with a 3-9o, but that was the way the poker gods (read: my flawed steal attempt) willed it, so I sort of had to. The flop hits 3-9-K rainbow giving me two pair, oh how I hate this hand. He checks it to me, but remembering Hoy’s observation that everyone will check if they hit a set, that could have meant anything. I checked right back. I am not sure what I should have done in that situation. In all likelihood, two pair had to be ahead right there, barring the set of course. But with the way my luck runs, it was entirely possible that he also had two pair, but that he hit with a king and a nine. When the turn came up an ace, he bet into it, but he just went straight all in. Normally, in my experience, if they want you to call it, or possibly get all your chips into the pot, the bet will be less than pot sized if they believe they have the best hand. The ace did put two clubs on the board, but at this point I don’t think either of us were really afraid of a flush. I took that bet to mean that he probably just hit a pair of aces, but didn’t really want to see the final card, and certainly not a showdown. After some thinking, I decided that my bottom two pair was good and pushed. He thought for a lot longer than he probably should have, but eventually called it and flipped over a pair of threes. Yep, that flopped set that I should have been worried about was about to take me out. Until a nine hits on the river, giving me a boat of 9’s and 3’s to his boat of 3’s and 9’s. Guin would be proud of my river suckout capabilities.
That left me smack at average as we went into the first break. I was also a bit gunshy after coming so close to going home on that flawed steal attempt. Thankfully, I would get a hand right after the break (possibly the third hand or so) that would get me back into the fray, so I thought… I had a pair of aces in the big blind, two guys limped in on the way around and the small blind raised it 4x. I made a minimal raise to that to get it to a nice, round 500 going into the pot, which one of the limpers as well as the small blind called. Flop comes up A-J-6 rainbow, which is just gravy for me. The pot is at 1500, I have about 2700 left in my stack and the small blind has me covered..barely.. I figure now is the perfect time to put out a bet on flopped trips (take that Hoy!), but I want at least one of the other guys to come along for the ride. A pot sized bet puts one of the guys all in, and probably makes them both fold, so I decide to go with 2/3 the pot. But two thirds would be exactly 1000, and that doesn’t feel right to me, so I bet 950 instead, no idea why. The guy to my left thinks about it for a while before calling it (what is he drawing to? Does he have the other ace?), and it is on the small blind’s timer when my wife goes to melt some cheese on top of her chimichanga…
See, for reasons I can’t explain, the microwave runs on the same circuit as the television in my living room. Since the room where our pc’s are located is on the other side of the living room wall, her pc shares a circuit with the microwave. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to me at the time, my DSL modem also shares that same circuit. So while I had decided to wait until the end of this hand before going to reset the breaker that had just tripped, I didn’t realize that I had just lost my connection. By the time I did realize that, I was not able to get to the breaker box and get the DSL reset before my hand timed out. Since sitting out forces you to fold to any bet, my flopped set of aces, as well as the 1500 in chips (about half my stack) were lost right there. Which absolutely sucks! Sure, it’s possible that one of them flopped trip jacks or 6’s and went on to win with quads on the turn or river (also no able to see hand history once I reconnected) but I have to believe that I was going to take that pot down. That pot would have taken me to well above average stack, possibly way above, as the one guy ended up all in and was eliminated by the time I got back to the table. That one hurt.
So I was back to about 1700 in chips, which was far from ideal, but the blinds were still low enough that I could take my time. Which I didn’t do, of course. About three hands later, I had a suited A-J that I called a min raise with. Flop hits an A-x-x and I decide that third kicker is good and push. Well, third kicker would have been good, had the other guy not been holding one of the x’s. Fortunately for me, the x he was holding was the lowest card on the board. I say fortunately because the poker Jesus was about to bail me out again. The turn brings up the fourth ace, and the river pairs the other card on the board (a 7 I think) giving us a split pot with the boat. Saved. My. Ass.
So score that Awesome hand being folded by circuit breaker:1 Having my ass totally bailed out when I make a questionable call:2
Now you guys only think you have seen me play tight. I am here to tell you that after these two near death experiences I was ready and willing to fold anything up to (and possibly including) aces. I didn’t play a hand for roughly the next century. Down to about 360 people left in it, and I had folded my blinds enough to put me squarely on the list of short stacks. I ended up in the small blind with 870 in chips -100 (possibly 150, can’t remember for sure) already in the pot. I had a 6-10o, and three people had pushed in front of me. I was to the point that I needed to double up nearly three times to get back to average, and I was the short stack of the tournament. 6-10o is good, right?
I pushed in that situation knowing that I needed a miracle, but also knowing that I was going to have to push sometime during the next orbit anyway. With three guys already all in, if I were to hit it I would have life again, but I knew that there was virtually no chance that I was going to win it. Though I wouldn’t get to see any of their cards until the river (one of the guys in it was the chipleader, and he and one other guy seemed perfectly content to check it down), I would have been happy had I seen what they were holding. There were two A-K’s and an A-Q in it, pretty much eliminating the possibility of the other ace coming, I would have liked my odds, actually:
Of course the other Ace came on the flop to take me out of the running -which, again, I didn’t know until the river, not that it really mattered. I made my decision to go in and pray, and I think I forgot to pray. At any rate, no 6 or 10 hit the board, and even if they would have, I would have lost to the eventual two pairs of Aces and Queens. So I went home somewhere around 350th (360th?).
I know that I am far better at making excuses than I am at playing poker, but I can’t help but wonder how much better I would have done if I had been able to finish the hand with the aces. I sincerely doubt my result would have been all that much better, but I wouldn’t have felt the need to get my chips in knowing that I was way behind at that point. I probably would have had to make a similar move, but I would have been able to make it a half an hour or so later, unless of course I happened to hit a couple of big hands along the way -something that I no longer had the luxury of waiting for once the blinds were raising as my stack was falling.
I am generally able to make it through the first half of the field in the 20k tournies by playing smart and tight early. Now that I am learning how and when to attempt steals, I should be able to put myself in a better position to actually make a run after the first break. If I could just get a couple of playable hands once the field is thinning, something that has yet to happen, I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to make it to the final table in one of these bad boys. Well, except for the fact that I suck at poker, but since when have I ever let that stop me?